How Nigeria can reverse its 12 per cent contribution to global maternal mortality — Expert

A foremost obstetrician and gynaecologist, Professor Emmanuel Otolorin says Nigeria contributes 12 per cent to the global burden of maternal mortality and reversing this would require ensuring at least 95 per cent of births are taken by skilled attendants.

Otolorin, a former Country Director, Jhpiego, delivering the 2020 distinguished Ibadan College of Medicine alumni lecture entitled “Walking the Talk to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Neonatal Mortality in Nigeria” said ensuring skilled birth attendants at every delivery was the way that Nigeria could reduce complications of childbirth and delivery to the minimum.

He stated that many other countries had embraced this at delivery to reduce their maternal mortality ratios as there was an inverse relationship between maternal mortality ratio and the use of skilled birth attendants.

Professor Otolorin stated that ensuring skilled birth attendance to every birth rises to 95 per cent all over the country is also important for Nigeria to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal’s target of reducing its maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

According to him, hypertensive disorders, obstetric haemorrhage, infection and unsafe abortion  are conditions that account for 90 per cent of all maternal deaths just as birth asphyxia, prematurity and infection accounts for 85 per cent of neonatal deaths in Nigeria.

Professor Otolorin said although infant mortality was going down, deaths in newborn babies were increasing in Nigeria and occurring most in their very first weeks of life.

According to him, 15 per cent of all women of reproductive age develop a life-threatening complication during pregnancy and delivery and if they are not properly managed can progress to maternal death with neonatal or without neonatal death makes addressing gaps in emergency obstetric and newborn care imperative.

He said “If you don’t get it right at this level, then you end up with maternal mortality or a perinatal death and therefore we must emphasise capacity building in all of our health facilities to tackle those emergencies when they do come.”

The don declared that 44 per cent of maternal deaths could be reduced by just using family planning method since a woman that does not get pregnant, will not require to have an induced abortion or risk complications of induced abortion.

Otolorin, however, declared that central to reducing Nigeria’s maternal and neonatal mortality reduction and improved care was an increase in health funding, government at all levels take the driver’s seat in health, increased community engagement and procurement of the 13 essential life-saving commodities with basic health care provision fund for all primary health care centres across the country.

He stated: “interventions needed for the reduction of maternal and newborn deaths are simple and inexpensive but it must be scaled up for all the 774 local governments. A two-pronged approach of demand creation and quality improvement in Services is also needed.”

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